Malawi Judiciary support staff on Friday downed tools and threatened to take a national wide industrial action if their grievances are not addressed.
The workers, among other issues, are demanding 28 percent salary increment and are also against salary harmonization exercise government is undertaking adding their demands are in line with conditions of service approved some time back.
Initially, the disgruntled workers, through the Judiciary Members of Staff Union, demanded to have an audience with the Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda on Friday, December 2 2016, but the Chief Justice didn’t show up, a development that forced them to down tools.
Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula confirmed the development, but was quick to point out that the Chief Justice Nyirenda is forthcoming and will meet with the workers on Monday.
In a memo dated November 30 2016 and titled members of staff concerns, the workers warned of holdig a national wide strike if their grievances were not addressed by close of business on Friday, December 2 2016.
“Reference is made to our previous memo in which we requested an audience with you to discuss concerns from the members of staff of the Judiciary. Your Lordship the members of staff have been quizzing us on the response from your office as regards to their concerns.
“So far, Your Lordship you have not informed us on the measures or solutions being taken by the office to resolve the said grievances. As a result Your Lordship, this prompted members of staff to hold a meeting on 29 November where they they resolved to seek audience with you on Friday the 2nd December 2016.
“Your Lordship, members of staff are contemplating of holding a national wide industrial action if their grievances are not addressed by Friday the 2nd of December 2016.
“In view of the foregoing Your Lordship, as a Workers Union, looking at the effects of an Industrial Action in the justice system, we are suggesting that from your busy schedule, may you address the said members of staff so as to halt the impending industrial action. You may wish to be reminded your Lordship of their grievances, are as follows; salary disparities; harmonization and promotion,” read the memo in part.
But Mvula said the Chief Justice will meet with the workers on Monday and that “things will back to normal next week.
He said Justice Nyirenda is in Lilongwe presiding over cases, as such it was not possible to unveil himself for the meeting in Blantyre as demanded by the workers.
“The Chief Justice is very forthcoming and is ready to meet with them. They wanted to have an audience the Chief Justice today, but that was not possible considering that he (Justice Nyirenda) is in Lilongwe preside over cases.
“We tried to reason with them (workers) and we even reported to them that Justice Nyirenda will not onlt be available on Monday, but have an audience with them. Their issues will be addressed as soon as possible and business will be back to normal next week,” said Mvula.
Last year, Judges and Magistrates threw their weight behind judiciary support staff against salary harmonization exercise and warned government not temper with salaries of any member of the judicial branch.